Leading House Democrats, apparently concerned that freshmen Dems, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), are making trouble for national candidates by proposing massive new funding plans that are expensive and unpopular, brought in former President Barack Obama for a sit-down talk.
The Washington Post reports that Obama sat down with legislators, including Ocasio-Cortez, to explain that high-price tag policies would hurt legislative success rates overall, and cautioned freshmen lawmakers to think “boldly” but logically about plans like the Green New Deal (though he didn’t name any specific policies).
“He encouraged the lawmakers — about half-dozen of whom worked in his own administration — to continue to pursue ‘bold’ ideas as they shaped legislation during their first year in the House,” the Post said, but encouraged “members to look at price tags.”
“He said we shouldn’t be afraid of big, bold ideas — but also need to think in the nitty-gritty about how those big, bold ideas will work and how you pay for them,” one meeting attendee told the Post.
The Green New Deal, which Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) cooked up together, is probably Obama’s top concern, at an estimated $93 trillion to implement — including a complete infrastructure and transportation overhaul within the United States, as well as new spending for jobs and food programs — but freshmen Democrats have been freely spending money in other areas, including an ambitious “Medicare for All” plan, which also promises to cost trillions.
But if Obama intended to derail pre-election movement on the Green New Deal, it may be too little too late. The Senate is, of course, voting on the GND Tuesday, much to GND supporters’ chagrin, but there’s also a concerted effort on the part of Ocasio-Cortez and others to organize a “Green New Deal” promotional tour during the summer, when Congress is in session fewer days.
That parade of environmentalism is scheduled to coincide with the true start of the 2020 presidential campaign, and the first real, official campaign appearances for serious Democratic presidential contenders at key events like the Iowa State Fair — and those contenders probably don’t want to answer questions on the GND, which many of them have endorsed, but which most aren’t speaking about.
“Medicare for All” campaigns may suffer the same fate; although, initially, it seemed something like 70% of Americans supported extending public health benefits typically reserved for the elderly to all Americans, that number dropped significantly after those same Americans were told that they would have to give up private insurance and that “Medicare for All” would look more like “Medicaid for All,” leaving most with “bare essentials” public medical coverage.
Obama’s message also may not have resonated because many freshmen Dems are much further left — and significantly more progressive — than Obama, at least in terms of how he governed from the White House. For example, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) was quoted by Politico as saying Obama was a progressive let down, and a standard politician.
“Recalling the ‘caging of kids’ at the U.S.-Mexico border and the ‘droning of countries around the world’ on Obama’s watch,” “[Obama] operated within the same fundamentally broken framework as his Republican successor,” Omar reportedly told the Washington, D.C. outlet.
Omar later claimed to have been “misquoted.”